Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Apprenticeships

I spent a lot of years promoting college. It was in my head, people thought college was in my future. If I could've told my past self not believe my own hype of the time. I made good grades in high school except that well I felt it was too easy. No disrespect to the Harlan Falcons who deserve a good education just like students in Chicago's selective enrollment schools.

Regardless I wish my generation of high school students had access to apprenticeships. I wouldn't be nitpicky construction, plumbing, business,etc. The one thing I regret about my years in school was that there wasn't enough that taught me valuable real life skills that could translate to a job.

Which is why this Volokh Conspiracy article catches my eye. Of course they go through the history for example in early American history if you decided to just "no call no show" your apprenticeship you can be sent to jail. It costs money to train someone and if you couldn't pay for it, you'd have to stay and work for who you apprenticed with.

The solutions aren't perfect, but the system I knew back in the day was broken then. Perhaps the public sector shouldn't be the only one leading the effort any more than the private sector. However as far as giving young people a head start on their futures we can't have them wedded to going to college which is increasingly a problem! Especially if the cost of a college education is to be paid with student loans.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Patti Blagojevich makes her plea to the President #twill

[VIDEO] I caught the tail end of this segment on Tuesday night. Illinois' former first lady Patti Blagojevich was on Tucker Carlson Tonight to essentially plead of her case to President Trump. On Tuesday her husband former Illinois governor Rod Blavojevich had his appeal denied by the US Supreme Court which all but assures that he will complete his sentence in federal custody.

Marathon Pundit wrote about this Tuesday night:
Blago's judge got it right, in my opinion. Even in graft-infested ILL-inois, public officials should be held to a hire standard. Besides, Blagojevich should know the law, after all, he's a former assistant Cook County state's attorney.
My opinion is that this sentence was harsh, but then I look at it as a function of Blago's need for attention. I can believe that Blago ticked off his judge and the prosecution. He probably did this long before his two trials in federal court especially with then US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and then at trial with federal judge Zagel.

Sometimes personal dislike drives a lot of these things, and I don't always like it. On the other hand if you don't want to be anyone's target always do right. In the case of Blago, don't think I want to know what he was thinking. He was who he was he proved it after almost six years as governor, he didn't change when he was facing time in federal prison. Perhaps right wasn't on his mind.

Although I do understand what Mrs. Blagojevich is doing for her husband. It's rough being married to a public figure and having children with him. It's especially rough if the kids are young when he first got arrested by the FBI and going through his trial. Also because of his penchant for publicity the spotlight at times was also on them. I'm sure Mrs. Blagojevich views Blago's long federal sentence as time away from his family.

As for Donald Trump who knows what he'll elect to do. Will Trump parole Blago because of his own connection to the TV show The Apprentice? Or will he use that TV connection to also deny Blago? We'll see if Mrs. Blagojevich's appeal is effective.

BTW, we know Trump often watches FOX News though most sources I've seen on this subject points to the fact that he watches Tucker Carlson.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Former First Lady Barbara Bush RIP

[VIDEO] To be honest,  I wanted to share a different video than this. However this is a story of national significance and wanted to note this here.

Mrs. Bush was the wife of the 41st POTUS George Herbert Walker Bush and the mother of the 43rd POTUS George W. Bush. I barely remember her time as our first as at the time I had been in grade school. I remember the dog Millie and more often than not she was certainly a grandmotherly figure and perhaps as a grade schooler I judged her by her appearance.

It's great to see the tributes to her from our current POTUS - who certainly has in his own way ran afoul of the Bush family. Just think about it Jeb! that was the poor former Florida governor's low-energy Bush for the former Florida governor. With a guy who has a penchant for punching and nicknames Jeb didn't have a chance.

Also MSNBC has often been maligned as a heavily left-wing news network and it's good to see them do this story of national significance the way it deserves to be done. I hope they would do it for the other first ladies because what ever roles they have with regards to the Presidency they've earned their stature. Barbara Bush surely has.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

ABC 7 Chicago: US, UK issue joint warning on Russian hackers

We depend on our wireless routers but now we learn that they have their own security risks. More Russian hacking:
The two governments said the operations, which allegedly involve planting malware on internet routers and other equipment, could also lay the foundation for future offensive cyberattacks.

A joint statement Monday by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the UK's National Cyber Security Centre says the targets include public and private internet equipment, but provides no details.

A companion technical alert says both nations have "high confidence" in the finding. It adds that state-sponsored Russian cyber-meddling has been reported by multiple sources since 2015. The alert urges affected companies and public sector organizations to take action to harden poorly-secured devices, but cites just one specific product. Russian hackers are trying to gain access to the devices that control the flow of internet traffic, the US and UK warned Monday in an alert for organizations and individuals worldwide.
More things to worry about in the world!
 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Blago denied again...

The former Governor of Illinois, the first to be impeached and removed from office back in January 2009, is rejected again by the US Supreme Court. I know this is old news, however, worth recording on this blog at this hour! Read a round-up via CapFax

The above pic, I had to look for that through my archives and it's still out there. It was appropriate about 10 years ago now not so that much. There are other things that probably could use that "shame" descriptor!

WWE's ECW Brand #Raw

Perhaps this will be the first in a series of posts with regards to pro-wrestling. Perhaps every Monday I might write on a subject of interest with regards to what could be called a sport or more accurately a performance art. With this said wrestling has been an occasional subject on this blog over the years.


Today I want to talk about ECW - Extreme Championship Wrestling. ECW lasted from about 1994 to 2001 when they went bankrupt. WWE bought the brand in the early 2000s and former ECW talent were utilized for that unfortunate invasion angle in 2001 essentially lumped in with former WCW talent. It was a disaster and both brands were shelved after 2002.

The video below is the intro to a TV show from the original ECW [VIDEO]
 

Then in 2005 WWE produced an ECW reunion PPV called "One Night Stand". Production values when ECW was an independent wasn't that good however with WWE producing the show it was much better. The show was like the promotion I had the chance to get to know for a brief time although it was essentially a WWE production. Regardless even with the appearance of WWE superstars who were there for heat purposes (well theatrical heat, yes my term more than anything) I could literally forget that WWE was involved with this. This show as just like the old ECW and almost as if after a four year hiatus the show itself never skipped a beat!

Then in 2006 another "One Night Stand" and ECW returns as a WWE brand. While I never saw the first episode of the new ECW there seemed to have been some excitement at first. It was almost is if the spirit of ECW is back, though let's not forget WWE owns the brand and produces the show. Eventually ECW became less ECW and more WWE of course early on there were some noticeable changes to the product. One of those changes is that every match won't be a hardcore match with no DQ as happened in the original promotion. It was somewhat sanitized for WWE's tastes.

Here's a full episode of WWE's ECW [VIDEO]
 

Which is funny because as time went on the original ECW was a promotion that essentially became a reaction to what was going on with the then World Wrestling Federation and WCW. ECW was a hardcore wrestling promotion known for some serious brawling and blood. There basically just about anything goes and when I first starting watching by 1998 this is what caught my eye the most. They were a national promotion though without the reach and relationships that WWF and WCW had, however, they had a good product worth watching and following. By relationships I should add that their syndicated product rarely had advertisers not only that I don't know how they got advertisers when ECW had their cable TV show on the old TNN (then later Spike and now Paramount Network). See the action isn't exactly family or advertiser friendly!

Finally they had PPVs to compete with WWF and WCW. While I never had the opportunity to watch any at the time - thought with a subscription to the WWE Network I can watch most of them now - I could surmise that these events had better quality than what was mainstream at that time. Surely the action was a lot more out there than would be seen on a regular TV episode.

Though as happens in the wrestling business especially an independent company ECW ultimately ran out of money. Even now a wrestling company will need a boatload of cash to operate with a number of obligations. Of course you have to pay your personnel, then of course you have to pay a venue, if you want to be serious you have to pay for the production and broadcast of the product, and perhaps some other expenses. Paul Heyman was the owner of ECW when it closed and many have described him as a pro-wrestling genius, he may well have not done very well with the business aspects. And also early one with the start of WWE's ECW brand he was the creative force until he decided to leave the wrestling business for a while.

With this said when WWE ended the ECW series in 2010, it was replaced by NXT. ECW for most of it's later existence aired on the SyFy network and NXT later replaced it. Eventually if you want to see NXT action it would be thrown onto the WWE Network were you can see the action every week. Essentially NXT is the developmental territory for WWE where in the past this was done in conjunction with other indepedent promotions with whom there was relationship. Perhaps that'll be the next subject next Monday.

To sum up with other wrestling action on the WWE Network with NXT and 205 Live (for WWE's cruiserweights) perhaps the vision for both of those brands are what ECW could've been. Yeah, WWE can make ECW what they want it to be however with the right vision or perhaps the right people running the brand it could've been something great. Here's hoping in the future that perhaps if WWE decides to create future brands for their online streaming network that they can hold to what was created for NXT and 205 Live!

Saturday, April 14, 2018

CBS News: How did Russia respond to the airstrikes in Syria?

[VIDEO] As I focus on sports entertainment and railcams (including one that has recently been deleted with no archival footage available) a military action took place yesterday in Syria. America, Great Britain, and France engaged in airstrikes that targeted Syrian chemical weapons over fears that they used them in their continuing civil war. Remember last year, President Trump also ordered airstrikes for roughly the same reason.

What's the worry now Russia, has a presence in Syria. I need to do more research as far as whether or not they're attempting to back the President Dictator Bashar Al-Asad. Anyway, Russia is a nuclear power and with charges of them meddling in an American election they seem to be attempting to stage a comeback on the world stage.

Just think over 25 years ago the former superpower known as the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR or Soviet Union or even CCCP in Russian Cryllic) was a dying entity. Little did many of us know at the time. And living in the reality not of a nuclear power Soviet Union, but it's immediate successor the Russian Federation had often been seen as a weak nation that just so happen to have a nuclear stockpile. Mikhail Gorbachev had been replaced by Boris Yeltsin and President Yeltsin seems like such a likeable jovial politician even if my perception was of his own alcoholism.

Today who's the Russian menace Vladimir Putin, the current president there. He used to be a KGB agent, and he showing why we don't want to mess with the KGB. Of course the Soviet Union is dead with the KGB, however the mentality remains. Putin may not entirely have the bells & whistles of a superpower, however, the aspirations are there.

Let's seriously hope that the Syrian situation doesn't escalate and the world doesn't have to worry about an old fashioned Cold War between USA and Russia.

Friday, April 13, 2018

And they say "kayfabe" is dead #WrestleMania

[VIDEO] 10 mins of behind the scenes footage of WrestleMania 34 in New Orleans. The performers you see in this video didn't stay in their wrestling personas they gave us a bit of their true selves. These WWE Superstars are performing in a crowd of over 78,000 people in the Superdome at an event referred to as "The grandest stage of them all".

Even though The Undertaker never responded to John Cena's challenge on WWE TV in the weeks leading up to WrestleMania, I knew we'd see an appearance by "The phenom". He doesn't speak on camera unfortunately but obviously he's getting ready for his match that I didn't think would actually happen but did. See I should've been a lot smarter than that...

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

New Virtual Railfan webcam on YouTube

[VIDEO] This is a demo live webcam of San Juan Capistrano, California in Orange County which will remain up temporarily unless there is a sponsor for it. I wonder what it takes to sponsor these cams, for the live cam in Flagstaff, Arizona which you can see here it's sponsored by the City of Flagstaff. Webcams from Virtual Railfan shown on their YouTube channel have chat feeds which you're free to participate if you follow their moderation policies.

The San Juan Capistrano depot does see Metrolink & Amtrak Surfliner trains stop at that station daily. For the most part those trains are what you'll see stop at this station on the cam. So no long distance routes if you will, this stop is basically a commuter rail stop. Metrolink is Los Angeles' commuter rail service akin to Chicago's Metra.

BTW, there is something of a connection to Metrolink from my last trip by Amtrak in 2016. Our Southwest Chief train from Chicago was running behind to the point where our conductor announced that all smoking stops were cancelled. He wanted to beat a Metrolink train into LA Union Station because it would result in delays of up to two hours. If we were behind that train we'd have to stop when that train stops to making their regular runs. We did ultimately beat that Metrolink and made it into LA on time. Good planning by the conductor on this one.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Stossel: The Great American Tax Ripoff

[VIDEO] Today's Stossel piece is about taxes in America. This month Americans will pay income taxes to the IRS - of course here in Illinois we also have to pay our income taxes. Either way no matter where you go there are taxes involved to pay for governmental expenses.

For example the now repeals sugary beverage tax was supposed to go to the Cook County hospital system, however, it also goes to these pensions. It was always said that without that "regressive" tax some county workers would lose their jobs.

These taxes are supposed to pay for all these wonderful things that we expect gov't to provide for us. Yes we should have at least police & fire protection. And of course we do have to provide public education and public health services. We also expect gov't to do far more than even that.

As stated in this video the various taxes don't go towards some special purpose it goes into the general fund. The Chicago bag tax isn't designed for the environment, instead it's going into this general fund. It's all about the money and the gov't like anyone else has to be able to pay it's own bills. Unfortunately as it would be with someone - let's say a person who keeps borrowing money from you and never pays you back - the need just isn't going away. It's entirely too easy to go to the well and ask for more cash!

Monday, April 09, 2018

#WrestleMania #Raw

[VIDEO] Last night I saw my first ever WrestleMania. Believe it or not as a long time pro-wrestling fan I've never ever watched a pay-per-view live as it happened. There was one pay-per-view in memory that I saw fresh though not live on TV at the time and it was the WWE produced ECW One Night Stand bought on DVD.

As with any wrestling event such as Raw & SmackDown every week there are bound to be high points and low points along the card. The lowest point had to have been the Universal Championship match between Roman Reigns and the champ Brock Lesnar. I heard the "boring" and "this is awful" chants as Lesnar stalks a prone Reigns as he continues his suplex city routine and assault. Needless to say this match ended in a Lesnar victory, he's held the title for a long time and no part for a part-time performer.

I was seen as a bit of a shocker to see Asuka lose to Charlotte Flair ending her undefeated streak. If the Flair name is familiar to you she is the daughter of the legendary "Nature Boy" Rick Flair and she had a magnificient WrestleMania entrance before he match which used her dad's wrestling theme Thus Sparch Zarathustra by Richard Strauss. Great match to watch it was quite a fight if you will.

The most interesting was a match between two legends John Cena and The Undertaker. Cena had been calling out "The Dead Man" up until even the last Raw before WrestleMania. The paths for Cena to get his match at WrestleMania dried up until he made a last ditch call out to The Undertaker. And while the Undertaker showed no signs of responding he came out at WrestleMania, hell even WWE referees were going into the crowd to find Cena to let him know "The Phenom" was in the house and ready for his match. And thanks to some swerves it almost seemed like it wouldn't happen until it did. And even though Cena lost he got his WrestleMania moment.

The New Day and Usos got demolished by the monster tag team known as the Bludgeon Bros who also won the SmackDown tag championship. Braun Strowman pulled a child from the crowd at the Superdome to be his tag team partner to win the Raw tag championship from Cesaro and Sheamus of The Bar. The kid is living up his new celebrity though we may never see that young man again.

To my disappointment the modern day maharaja Jinder Mahal won a four way match with US Champ Randy Orton, former US Champ Bobby Roode, and yet another former US Champ Rusev to win the US Title. I'm not a huge fan of Mahal, and had my favorite to win the match which was former TNA performer Roode. Regardless this was another hard fought match if you will.

Then I was suprised to see the rock star Shinsuke Nakamura turning heel after losing his match to the WWE Champ AJ Styles. They seem to show their mutual respect until Nakamura hit Styles with a low blow and assaulted him after their match. It got my attention and if you see the audience there it clearly got their attention also.

Anyway I've ran a rough gamut of all matches that took place last night in New Orleans. For my first WrestleMania it was a great show. My next goal is to go to a WrestleMania and it doesn't matter much to me if I have to travel for it. I want to do more traveling anyway.